Dire Straits – Money For Nothing – Review (LP, CD, Qobuz, 1988, 1996 remastered 2022)

Released in 1988, Money For Nothing is a compilation of the best songs from the first 5 Dire Straits studio albums. After a first remastering in 1996, it returns today with a new remastering in streaming and vinyl.

The review includes 4 editions: Vinyl 2022, CD 1988, CD remastered 1996, Streaming Qobuz remastered 2022.

You can find the test of the studio album Brothers In Arms Here.

Below you will find the description of the different editions, as well as the measurements of each edition in the following chapters.
The synthesis of the review and the samples are available here.

This album includes 12 tracks reviewed:

  1. Sultans Of Swing
  2. Down To The Waterline
  3. Portobello Belle – Live
  4. Twisting By The Pool (Remix)
  5. Tunnel Of Love
  6. Romeo And Juliet
  7. Where Do You Think You’re Going
  8. Walk Of Life
  9. Private Investigations
  10. Telegraph Road – Live (Remix)
  11. Money For Nothing
  12. Brothers In Arms

First we will analyze each edition in detail (technical and qualitative analysis), then we will compare the successive editions with their dynamics and assign a final score, and you will be able to listen some samples.

The streaming versions may evolve over time, those presented here correspond to the version tested at the date of publication, or update of the review.

Review of the editions:

Part 1: Presentation of the editions

Part 2 : Waveform and dynamique comparaison

Parts 3 : Spectrum comparisons

Part 4 : Spectrogram comparaisons

Part 5 : Summary, scoring and Sample

Part 1: presentation of the editions

Ed1: Vinyl remastered ref : 602438631940 – 2022
Presentation

This is the remastered vinyl (2022) of this album with 2 LP in 180g.

Label‎Vertigo
Reference602438631940
Format (speed)Vinyl
TypeDouble LP 180g
MasterDigital
Mastering/PressingRemastered by Bob Ludwig
Cutting by Bernie Grundman
Original recordingAnalog
StateFrance
Year original1988
Year production2022
Ed2: CD ref : 836 419-2- 1988
Presentation

This is the original CD in 16 bits 44.1 kHz.

Label‎Vertigo
Reference836 419-2
Format (speed)CD
TypeCD 16 bits 44.1 kHz
MasterDigital, CD with AAD information
Mastering/PressingCD with AAD logo (Analog recorded, Analog mixed, Digital mastered)
Original recordingAnalog
StateFrance
Year original1988
Year production1988
Ed3: CD remastered ref : 836 419-2 – 1996
Presentation

This is remastered CD in 16 bits 44.1 kHz.

Label‎Vertigo
Reference836 419-2
Format (speed)CD
TypeCD 16 bits 44.1 kHz
MasterDigital remastered in SBM (Supêr Bit Mapping), CD with AAD information
Mastering/PressingAnalog recorded, Analog mixed, Digital mastered
Remastered by Bob Ludwig
Original recordingAnalog
StateFrance
Year original1988
Year production1996
Ed4: Qobuz Hi-Res remastered 2022 – 2022
Presentation

This is remastered streaming Qobuz in 24 bits 192 kHz.

Label‎Vertigo
ReferenceQobuz Hi-Res remastered 2022
Format (speed)Streaming
Type24 bits 192 kHz
MasterDigital remastered in 2022
Mastering/PressingRemastered by Bob Ludwig
Original recordingAnalog
StateEU
Year original1988
Year production2022

Part 2 : Waveform and dynamic comparaisons

Waveform

The waveform represents all the tracks of the album for each version.

The graphs below represent the waveforms of the vinyl versions (Ed1) and CD 1988 (Ed2).
This version is dynamic without compression effect. The CD is a little more dynamic, with more pronounced peaks.

Waveform Ed1 : Vinyl
Waveform Ed2 CD 1988

The CD remastered in 1996 (Ed3) is compressed in dynamics to have a higher sound level. The yellow zone shows that the sound volume is maximized in level.

Waveform Ed3 CD remastered 1996

Compared to the 1996 CD (Ed3), the Qobuz remastered version in 2022 (Ed4) is even more compressed, we find less variations of levels, with more areas set at the maximum level (yellow zone).

Waveform Ed3: Tidal

The graph below compares the song Money For Nothing for the 3 digital versions with the DR decreasing from the CD of 1988 to the Qobuz version of 2022. These 3 versions are adjusted to the same sound level at -17.7 Lufs. You can observe that the lower the DR, the lower the signal height, with less and less finesse.

Waveform CD 1988 vs CD 1996 vs Qobuz 2022

Dynamic

Dynamic represents the ability to reproduce a wide range of sounds from the softest to the loudest. The target is to compare the dynamics of the music and not of the media (CD, digital files or vinyl).

For our 4 editions we have obtained the following Dynamic Range (DR) :

 Ed1: VinylEd2: CD 1988Ed3: CD 1996Ed4: Qobuz 2022
GLOBALDR13DR15DR12DR8
MinDR11DR12DR9DR7
MaxDR17DR17DR14DR10
Sultans Of SwingDR14DR15DR12DR7
Down To The WaterlineDR14DR15DR12DR8
Portobello Belle – LiveDR11DR15DR11DR8
Twisting By The Pool (Remix)DR11DR13DR11DR8
Tunnel Of LoveDR13DR14DR9DR8
Romeo And JulietDR14DR14DR11DR8
Where Do You Think You’re GoingDR11DR15DR14DR8
Walk Of LifeDR12DR12DR10DR7
Private InvestigationsDR17DR17DR14DR10
Telegraph Road – Live (Remix)DR13DR15DR12DR8
Money For NothingDR12DR16DR10DR7
Brothers In ArmsDR11DR14DR13DR7

The digital versions are more and more compressed with the remasterings, we go from a DR15 in 1988 to a DR8 in 2022. The loudness war is not finished yet, we would have hoped that a band like Dire Straits would not be impacted! The vinyl is from the remastered version in 2022, but remains less dynamic than the 1988 CD.

As a reminder, the scale goes from 0 to more 20, but the dynamics are considered good from 12, quite good between 10 and 11, and deteriorate below 10.

Part 3 : spectrum comparisons

Spectrum

The Spectrum allows to check the tonal balance of the music (balance between treble, medium and bass sounds) and to detect process that may have been carried out during the recording, the mixing, mastering or manufacturing phases. It is also possible to detect frequency interference issues.

The curve represents the average frequency distribution over the sample “Tunnel Of Love”.

The interesting features on this curve Ed1 Vinyl 1986 (white) vs Ed4 Qobuz (blue) are the following:

  • Superposition of the 2 curves up to 8 kHz
  • Above 8 kHz, the red zone shows a high-frequency equalization with a peak of nearly 10 dB at 15 kHz, and a drop of 20 dB at 17 kHz, followed by a rise at 20 kHz. One wonders why such a treatment above 8 kHz when we should have a frequency response curve close to the mastered version in 2022. The quality of the engraving is not at the level expected on this type of disc.
Spectrum Ed1 Vinyl (White) vs Ed4 Qobuz 2022 (Blue)

The curves between the 1988 CD version (Ed1) and the 1996 remastered version (Ed2) are similar with some small differences (green and yellow arrows).

Spectrum Ed3 CD remastered 1996 (White) vs Ed2 CD 1988 (Blue)

The curves between the CD version of 1988 (Ed1) and the remastered version of 2022 (Ed4) are similar with some small differences in the bass (green area) and in the treble (yellow arrow). The Qobuz remastered version 2022 (Ed4) has a frequency response curve that progressively attenuates above 20 kHz (purple arrow )due to the 192 kHz sampling frequency.

Spectrum Ed4 Qobuz 2022 (White) vs Ed2 CD 1988 (Blue)

Part 4 : Spectrogram comparaisons

Spectrogram

Spectrogram is another representation of frequency versus time of a track. For each channel (right and left), horizontal axis represents time, and the vertical axis represents frequency. The amplitude is represented by the intensity (brightness) of the color of each point in the image.

The vinyl spectrogram (Ed1) continues above the visible limit at 17 kHz (due to engraving) (yellow arrow). The white arrow shows music and the distortion due to the playback of the vinyl above 17 kHz.

Spectrogram Ed1 : Vinyl

The spectrograms of CD 1988 (Ed2) and CD 1996 (Ed3) versions are similar, with a limit at 22kHz (yellow arrow) due to the 44.1kHz sampling frequency and the absence of signal above 22 kHz (white arrow).

Spectrogram Ed2 : CD 1988
Spectrogram Ed3 : CD remastered 1996

The spectrogram of Qobuz remastered 2022 (Ed4) version goes above 22 kHz (yellow arrow) due to the 192kHz sampling frequency. The white arrow shows frequencies up to 96 kHz. Note that the maximum frequency of the garphic below is 96 kHz, unlike the other graphics which were limited to 44.2 kHz.

Spectrogram Ed4 : Qobuz (Max value 96 kHz)

Part 5 : Summary, scoring and Samples

Ed1: Vinyl clear and black ref : PCRPOPLP212X – 2022

The sound is dynamic but below the CD version. The large variations above 10 kHz with the drop at 17 kHz have an impact on the naturalness of the guitar sound. Otherwise, the listening brings a warmer sound than the CD. However, the quality of pressing is not perfect and leaves some clicks and cleaning is mandatory to reduce them.

  • Rating:
    • Dynamic: ●●●●o (4/5)
    • Bandwidth: ●●●oo (3/5)
    • Surface noise: ●●●oo (3.5/5)
    • Restitution: ●●●●o (3.5/5)
  • Sample : “Tunnel Of Love” 24 bits 88.2 kHz:
Sample Ed1 Vinyl
Ed2: CD ref : 836 419-2- 1988

The 1988 CD is the most dynamic and accurate of the versions tested. We find all the finesse of the music. The Qobuz version with its 192 kHz sampling frequency should have done better, but the strong compression broke the interest of presenting a 192 kHz version.

  • Rating:
    • Dynamic: ●●●●● (5/5)
    • Bandwidth: ●●●●o (4/5)
    • Restitution: ●●●●o (4/5)
  • Sample : “Tunnel Of Love” 16 bits 44.1 kHz:
Sample Ed2 CD 1988
Ed3: CD remastered ref : 836 419-2 – 1996

The CD remastered in 1996 is compressed, too bad for the SBM technology which should have brought more finesse and precision.

  • Rating:
    • Dynamic: ●●●oo (3.5/5)
    • Bandwidth: ●●●●o (4/5)
    • Restitution: ●●●oo (3/5)
  • Sample : “Tunnel Of Love” 16 bits 44.1 kHz:
Sample Ed3 CD 1996
Ed4: Qobuz Hi-Res remastered 2022 – 2022

The availability of this album in Qobuz Hi-Res version in 24 bits 192 kHz would have let think of a reference version with a great finesse in the rendering of the guitar, but, unfortunately, the compression with a DR8 breaks all the dynamics of the instruments and the voice. It is really a pity!

  • Rating:
    • Dynamic: ●●ooo (2/5)
    • Bandwidth: ●●●●● (4/5)
    • Restitution: ●●●oo (2.5/5)
  • Sample : “Tunnel Of Love” 24 bits 96 kHz:
Sample Ed4 Qobuz remastered 2022

Among the 4 tested versions, the CD version de 1988 is the one which is the closest to the dynamic and precise rendering of Dire Straits’ music. The remastered vinyl version brings a warmer sound, but a little less precise and with a pressing that remains just correct.

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Detail of the ratings :

  • Dynamic :
    1. Significant dynamic compression, DR less than 7
    2. Compression of the present dynamics, DR between 7 and 9.
    3. Correct piece DR >=10
    4. No dynamic compression (DR >12), dynamic rendering
    5. No dynamic compression, high DR and very dynamic sound rendering
  • Spectrum :
    1. Spectrum cut and less than 15 khz
    2. Spectrum cut at 15 khz
    3. Spectrum not conforming to the original and cut (not HD) or original but limited bandwidth (but less than 20 kHz)
    4. Spectrum conforming to the original (but not HD)
    5. Spectrum conforming to the original with HD resolution (higher than 24kHz)
  • Surface noise (only for vinyl):
    1. Continuous audible noise
    2. Audible surface noise except on passages with a high level of noise
    3. Reduced surface noise, barely audible on low level crossings
    4. Low surface noise, very good quality
    5. Very low surface noise, no defects, almost inaudible on the quiet passages (exceptional disc)
  • Spatialization :
    • Between 0 and 5 for 5.1 or 7.1 channels configuration
    • Between 0 and 10 for Atmos configuration (7.1.4)
    • For more information on spatialization, you can read the article describing this parameter here.
  • Restitution :
    1. Low quality of the restitution mixing dynamics, clarity, separation of voices and instruments.
    2. Average quality of the restitution mixing dynamics, clarity, separation of voices and instruments.
    3. Quality of the restitution mixing dynamics, clarity, separation of voices and instruments. Good record.
    4. High quality of the restitution mixing dynamics, clarity, separation of voices and instruments. Very high level disc.
    5. Maximum quality of the restitution mixing dynamics, clarity, separation of voices and instruments. Exceptional disc.

4 thoughts on “Dire Straits – Money For Nothing – Review (LP, CD, Qobuz, 1988, 1996 remastered 2022)

  1. A lot of those early Vertigo CDs seemed to have some nice dynamics. It’s also why they go for more money than the average CD cost of the remasters. Well done!

    Like

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